Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo, it’s a fish kid in red

ponyo

I would like to recommend a film that I saw last night.  I would like to recommend it to EVERYONE.  It is distributed by Disney, so it may come off a bit fluffy at first glance.  Make no mistake, it should be regarded as a work of art.  I am referring to “Ponyo” from the genius that is Hayao Miyazaki.  If you aren’t familiar with Miyazaki let me just introduce him to you by saying that he is one of the most respected men in the industry.  John Lasseter (one of the main guys at Pixar) bows down to him any chance he can get… in fact he gets behind Miyazaki as an executive producer.  So yeah, my point simply put is this:  Miyazaki is an undisputed gifted visionary in the world of animated tales.  Even if you are of the small pool of people that don’t enjoy animated stories, you will enjoy his.

This is Miyazaki’s eighth film for Studio Ghibli.  Studio Ghibli is responsible for converting me into an anime fan.  It is a studio that delivers.  Each film Miyazaki puts out shares some similar traits.  They are all based in beautiful enchanted environments.  The characters and stories (often environmentally based) are developed in a way that makes the audience really care and get immersed in the world.

As I was saying before, I would tell anyone to go see “Ponyo.”  It is the most child friendly of the Ghibli films since “My Neighbor Totoro.”  It’s a charming mellow ride where the conflict is not scary and easily resolved.  If that sounds boring to any of you, it isn’t.  The animation is so creative and stunning to the eye and, consistent with all of Miyazaki’s previous films, the story takes you on a ride.   I love when I leave a movie and its tone stays with me long after I leave the theater.  “Ponyo” is that kind of film.

I don’t want to give away much of the story.   I went into it with no idea about  it other than water, a goldfish/girl creature and a little boy who develops a relationship with her.  It’s fun to watch it with a blank canvas and just enjoy the unfolding process.  Miyazaki wrote it inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” (not to REMOTELY be mistaken with the Disney version).  This isn’t to say it’s an adaptation, but there are qualities and story aspects that tie in to the Andersen tale.  I totally called it while I was watching it (she says smugly).

I would stress even further that you should go while it is playing on the big screen.  The upside to having Disney dollars under your belt is the strong budget to back up the surreal visions with the necessary tools to bring them to life.  These visions are best seen on as large a platform as possible.  It brings an added sense of exhilaration to the experience.  The music is a gorgeous series of orchestrations (another consistent perk to all Miyazaki films) …so you are going to want that pro sound system you’ll only get at the theater.

Unfortunately the movie was placed in one of the shoe box sized theaters on opening weekend.  As a result, when I walked in to the theater every single seat was occupied but those oh-so coveted spots two feet from the screen.  As happy as I was the movie was drawing a crowd, I would have walked out and gone to a later showing …but I already had my popcorn and cherry coke in hand.  I was extremely frustrated for the first twenty minutes or so.  This is no fault of the film.  In fact, from the very start, this film has so much to behold it isn’t possible to take it all in with your forehead pressed against the screen.  Eventually I got wrapped up in the story enough so that I adjusted to the seats and just enjoyed.  I look forward to going again.  Only next time I will take twenty giant steps back, thus allowing myself to appreciate every aspect of this bewitching treasure.

Just in case I haven’t made it clear, I suggest you do the same.

Use the url provided below to see the preview.  It will give you an ambiguous but fair sense of the awe that is to come if you get your ticket…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BfNtYF94cQ

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